Miss So-And-So, The Unmasked Crusader

There’s a feisty little Panamanian woman, about my mother’s age, who comes to clean our offices twice a day.

Every time she comes into my office, she sings out, “It’s a good day, bay-bee!” in her heavily accented English.

“Hi, Miss So-and-so,” I reply, smiling.  “How are you today?”

It’s a loaded question, really.  The answer to which is invariably a colorful 15-20 minute story from her younger days; sometimes in English, sometimes in Spanish but always ending in a defiant, “Bullshit!” – her go-to response when someone, somewhere attempted to get in her way once she set her mind to do something.  These are the stories she chooses to tell.

Then one day after sharing her story, she walked over as if to emphasize the gravity of her next point and put her hand on my arm to make sure I was listening.  I’m not sure why she did this because I’m always her most captive audience but I felt warmth and wisdom in the connection so I covered her hand with my own.

There, connected like that, she told me, “Bay-bee, you have only one life.  USE IT UP!  And go get more!”

With that, she filled the moment with laughter and pushed her cart out of my office.

I marvel at this tiny force of nature.  If I roll her up tightly enough, she can probably fit in my purse – the big striped one with the double handles.  But she is 90 lbs of pure fiyah – a substance not yet controlled, certainly not defined and perhaps not even known by man.  Yet, in spite her small stature, she is one of the biggest forces I know because when she walks into a room, she, like air, fills the entire space.  Elemental, indeed.

And for 15-20 minutes a day, she’s my hero.  Just thought I’d share her with you.


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